keen

adjective
\ ˈkēn How to pronounce keen (audio) \

Definition of keen

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : intellectually alert : having or characteristic of a quick penetrating mind a keen student a keen awareness of the problem also : shrewdly astute a keen assessment
b : extremely sensitive in perception keen eyes a keen sense of smell
c : sharply contested keen competition keen debate
2a(1) : showing a quick and ardent responsiveness : enthusiastic a keen swimmer
(2) : eager was keen to begin
b of emotion or feeling : intense the keen delight in the chase— F. W. Maitland
3 : wonderful, excellent a keen idea
4a : having a fine edge or point : sharp a knife with a keen blade
b : affecting one as if by cutting keen sarcasm
c : pungent to the sense a keen scent
keen on
: very enthusiastic or excited about wasn't keen on going

keen

verb
keened; keening; keens

Definition of keen (Entry 2 of 3)

intransitive verb

1a : to make a loud and long cry of sorrow : to lament with a keen
b : to make a sound suggestive of a loud cry of sorrow a keening siren
2 : to lament, mourn, or complain loudly

transitive verb

: to utter with a loud wailing voice or wordless cry keened our sorrowPunch

keen

noun

Definition of keen (Entry 3 of 3)

: a lamentation for the dead uttered in a loud wailing voice or sometimes in a wordless cry

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Other Words from keen

Adjective

keenly adverb
keenness \ ˈkēn-​nəs How to pronounce keenness (audio) \ noun

Verb

keener noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for keen

Synonyms: Adjective

acute, delicate, fine, perceptive, quick, sensitive, sharp

Synonyms: Verb

beef, bellyache, bitch, bleat, carp, caterwaul, complain, crab, croak, fuss, gripe, grizzle, grouch, grouse, growl, grumble, grump, holler, inveigh, kick, kvetch, maunder [chiefly British], moan, murmur, mutter, nag, repine, scream, squawk, squeal, wail, whimper, whine, whinge [British], yammer, yawp (or yaup), yowl

Synonyms: Noun

groan, howl, lament, lamentation, moan, plaint, wail

Antonyms: Verb

crow, delight, rejoice

Antonyms: Noun

exultation, rejoicing

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Choose the Right Synonym for keen

Adjective

sharp, keen, acute mean having or showing alert competence and clear understanding. sharp implies quick perception, clever resourcefulness, or sometimes questionable trickiness. sharp enough to spot a confidence game keen suggests quickness, enthusiasm, and a penetrating mind. a keen observer of the political scene acute implies a power to penetrate and may suggest subtlety and sharpness of discrimination. an acute sense of style

eager, avid, keen, anxious, athirst mean moved by a strong and urgent desire or interest. eager implies ardor and enthusiasm and sometimes impatience at delay or restraint. eager to get started avid adds to eager the implication of insatiability or greed. avid for new thrills keen suggests intensity of interest and quick responsiveness in action. keen on the latest fashions anxious emphasizes fear of frustration or failure or disappointment. anxious not to make a social blunder athirst stresses yearning but not necessarily readiness for action. athirst for adventure

Examples of keen in a Sentence

Adjective

When you've been trying to remember something and you suddenly remember it, the mental pleasure is keen. — Ian Frazier, Atlantic, October 2004 Indeed, tobacco processors were keen to promote variety even further by saturating and mixing the cut and spun leaf with a miscellany of spices … — Simon Schama, The Embarrassment of Riches, 1988 But Mary wasn't keen on braving the Athens streets alone so Magnus went instead; Mary would do a museum in the morning. — John le Carré, A Perfect Spy, 1986 That he took a keen interest in scientific navigation is indicated by his keeping a daybook or journal (which has not survived), and by making an honest effort to determine longitude. — Samuel Eliot Morison, The European Discovery of America, 1971 The keen clear wind swept in on his left cheek, and as he bore on the helm so the Sophie answered, quicker and more nervous than he had expected. — Patrick O'Brian, Master and Commander, 1970 Planting himself squarely before the two tall cowboys who were standing, he looked straight into their lean, bronzed faces. He spared a full moment for that keen cool gaze before he spoke. — Zane Grey, Desert Gold, 1913 She's a very keen observer of the political world. pilots with especially keen eyesight

Verb

mourners keening at a funeral victims of the disaster have been keening for weeks about the slowness of governmental aid

Noun

the loud keens of the widows were heard throughout the war-ravaged city
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Bayern Munich are believed to be especially keen on bringing Hudson-Odoi in on a free transfer, but news of a new contract would certainly bring an end to the Bundesliga champions' plans. SI.com, "Callum Hudson-Odoi Set to Return for Chelsea Under-23s as Recovery Nears End," 11 Sep. 2019 Kogut, who co-wrote the script with Iana Cossoy, displays a keen eye for satirizing Brazil’s rigid class structures and how people like Madá try to find their own piece of the pie within them. Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Three Summers' ('Três Verões'): Film Review | TIFF 2019," 7 Sep. 2019 More than 70 percent of that revenue comes from Europe and Asia, where regulators are especially keen on cutting carbon emissions. Alex Davies, WIRED, "An Old-School Auto Supplier Is Betting on an Electric Future," 8 Aug. 2019 In addition to trade with China, Iran is especially keen on the activation of a barter-type system set up by the Europeans that would allow the continent’s businesses to trade with Tehran without violating the U.S. sanctions. Washington Post, "Diplomats recommit to saving Iran deal, oppose US sanctions," 28 July 2019 In addition to trade with China, Iran is especially keen on the activation of a barter-type system set up by the Europeans that would allow the continent's businesses to trade with Tehran without violating the U.S. sanctions. CBS News, "World diplomats hold talks in Vienna in effort to salvage Iran nuclear deal," 28 July 2019 In addition to trade with China, Iran is especially keen on the activation of a barter-type system set up by the Europeans that would allow the continent's businesses to trade with Tehran without violating the U.S. sanctions. NBC News, "World powers try to save nuclear deal amid mounting tensions between U.S. and Iran," 28 July 2019 Jackson’s estate is especially keen on refocusing the sordid narrative that the pop star couldn’t escape in life by finding new ways to highlight his artistry. Shelby Grad, latimes.com, "Michael Jackson’s final day: A sleepless night, dangerous drugs and a death that shook the world," 27 Apr. 2019 There was one person with an especially keen appreciation of Favre’s wildness, and that same person happens to be coaching one of the NFL’s best teams this postseason. Jonathan Clegg, WSJ, "The Most Important Quarterback in the NFL Playoffs: Brett Favre," 4 Jan. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The two clubs have reportedly held further talks, with the Gers keen to get any deal signed off before the Scottish transfer window closes at the end of the month. SI.com, "Rangers Chiefs Give Green Light to Offer Which Could Lead to Biggest Transfer in 17 Years," 24 Aug. 2019 The sparse soundtrack is made up of silence and female voices keening, singing and shrieking, a deeply unpleasant sonic quilt. Los Angeles Times, "Review: ‘Ladyworld’ with Maya Hawke,’ plus Bud doc ‘Kings of Beer,’ ‘Consequences’ and ‘Moop’," 1 Aug. 2019 So there is an opening for other countries keen to attract Chinese money, including a number in Europe, such as Greece, Portugal and Malta (which also offers citizenship). The Economist, "Chinese are big customers for schemes selling foreign residency," 18 July 2019 The 26-year-old has been linked all summer long with a move to the Red Devils, with neighbourhood rivals Manchester City also keen to snap up one of England's first choice central defenders. SI.com, "Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Admits Man Utd Will Have to Sell Centre-Back if They Sign Harry Maguire," 16 July 2019 Dani discovers Christian in flagrante and finally lets out her howling grief, surrounded by a half-dozen girls who match her keening with their own. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "Midsommar’s twisted ending, explained," 3 July 2019 Kid zombies maraud the local gas station for candy while adults wander outside the pharmacy listlessly keening for Xanax. Katie Walsh, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: Bill Murray, Adam Driver battle zombies in ‘The Dead Don’t Die’," 13 June 2019 But the soaring cost of housing has become a growing source of urban popular outrage (particularly among younger workers keen to live on their own, but whose earnings barely cover mortgage payments). Gwynn Guilford, Quartz, "China’s debt disease might wreck its uncrashable housing market," 11 June 2019 As such, Antonio's future with the club has bee cast into doubt with new Hammers boss Manuel Pellegrini reportedly keen on acquiring Lazio's Brazilian attacker Felipe Anderson. SI.com, "West Ham Open to Letting Struggling Star Leave Amid Fulham and Crystal Palace Interest," 1 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

And his number one target is now Rose, with the 60-year-old keen to beat both Schalke and PSG to the Englishman's signature. SI.com, "Juventus Manager Maurizio Sarri Eyes Move for Danny Rose as Schalke & PSG Also Chase Left Back," 23 July 2019 Thousands of men, keen of brain and firm of purpose, are enlisted on both sides, spending vast sums of money, and operating entire navies on the seas, and airplanes and motor fleets on land. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "Rewind: What Guarding Uncle Sam's Borders Was Like in 1925," 11 Feb. 2019 It is reported that United are not the only side keen on Kovacic, with Juventus, Inter and Tottenham also reportedly interested in his signature. SI.com, "Man Utd Interested in Real Madrid's Mateo Kovacic as Jose Mourinho Targets Midfield Additions," 5 Feb. 2018 Lacy, a keen and experienced motorcyclist, was killed Nov. 30 in a motorcycle crash in Botswana. Will Higgins, Indianapolis Star, "Deaths of 2017: Indiana celebrities and 'everyday Hoosiers' we lost," 26 Dec. 2017 Fenway, an all black shorthair, was overweight, slow-moving and keen on sleeping 23 hours a day. Unless food was involved. Stefan Stevenson, star-telegram, "Saying goodbye to a food-loving friend, Fenway the cat," 4 Nov. 2017 Well, that's a little more adventure than my Keens have seen. Christopher Elliott, USA TODAY, "The best shoes for your summer trip," 28 May 2017 His voice has the South in it, and the hysterical keen of a chainsaw. Rachel Aviv, The New Yorker, "Herman Melville, Volume I," 27 Mar. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'keen.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of keen

Adjective

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4a

Verb

1845, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

Noun

1830, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for keen

Adjective and Noun

Middle English kene brave, sharp, from Old English cēne brave; akin to Old High German kuoni brave

Verb

Irish caoinim I lament, weep

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Statistics for keen

Last Updated

15 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for keen

The first known use of keen was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for keen

keen

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of keen

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: having or showing an ability to think clearly and to understand what is not obvious or simple about something
: very strong and sensitive : highly developed
: very excited about and interested in something

keen

verb

English Language Learners Definition of keen (Entry 2 of 2)

old-fashioned + literary : to make a loud and long cry of sorrow

keen

adjective
\ ˈkēn How to pronounce keen (audio) \
keener; keenest

Kids Definition of keen

1 : having a fine edge or point : sharp a keen knife
2 : having or showing mental sharpness a keen observation
3 : very sensitive (as in seeing, smelling, or hearing) keen eyesight
4 : full of enthusiasm : eager … everybody was very keen to hear details of what had happened …— J. K. Rowling, Goblet of Fire
5 : seeming to cut or sting a keen wind

Other Words from keen

keenly adverb
keenness noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on keen

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for keen

Spanish Central: Translation of keen

Nglish: Translation of keen for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of keen for Arabic Speakers

Comments on keen

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